A toast to Canada's organic wines
There are few more pleasurable experiences than relaxing with a glass of wine on a summer evening. But are there organic wines available from Canadian wineries?
There are few more pleasurable experiences in life than relaxing with a cooling glass of wine on a long summer’s evening. But for those of us who like to consume organic products, are there organic options available?
And what exactly does organic mean in relation to wine? Reading the labels at a liquor store may not give you the full picture of what goes into (or what doesn’t go into) producing a particular wine.
The beauty of organic wine is knowing you are drinking a product created entirely in harmony with nature. No environmentally harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilizers have been used. The use of cover crops, natural predators, and disease-resistant vines reduce the need for spraying.
What happens to the grapes once they leave the fields also determines whether they may be called organic. Though sulphur dioxide (SO2) is a natural byproduct of the fermentation process of grapes and is present in small amounts in all wines, including organic wines, the Certified Organic Association of BC (COABC) encourages winemakers to produce wines without adding SO2.
Naturally occurring acids such as ascorbic and citric acid can be added to the organic wine as stabilizing agents.
After harvesting, the grapes used in organic wine should only be kept in clean containers made from enamelled metal, wood, or plastics approved for use in food storage. Organic grapes must not be contaminated by contact with even the must or juice of nonorganic grapes. Similarly, only organic yeast nutrients can be added in the winemaking process.
The barrels that store the wine, and their stoppers, must be made from wood, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic.
Organic wines that cross provincial or international borders must sport a logo created by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that shows a maple leaf rising behind a field with the words “biologique Canada organic” and means that the wine meets the Organic Products Regulations.
Organic wines are part of Canada’s rich tradition stretching back to the first commercial vineyard on Pelee Island in 1866. There are organic wineries in British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.
Organic fruit wineries, such as the en Sant?inery in Alberta and the Rigby Orchards Estate Winery in Manitoba, produce wines from Saskatoon berry, raspberry, wild cherry, and even rhubarb.
Many organic wineries such as Rollingdale in British Columbia and Frogpond Farm in Ontario are small operations, but they do have websites where their wines can be ordered online. Summerhill and Kalala wines are available online and can be bought from liquor stores across the country. The produce of L’Acadie can be purchased at select wine merchants and Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation stores.
You can relax in the knowledge that no harm came to the environment during the production of these organic wines. Also, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the transportation of these Canadian wines is less than if they had come from other parts of the world.
These two facts will bring an environmentally friendly smile to your face and make that lovely wine taste even better on a warm summer evening.
The fact that a wine is organic can be indicated in different ways on the wine bottle. Here is a list of terms you might see on a label along with their definitions.